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Little black box
little black box

overlanding, travel blogs, books

The Little Black Box has the following features:


  • Coolant level sensor

  • A loss of coolant is often the first symptom of a mechanical failure, an alarm will sound when the coolant level drops below the minimum level sensors, allowing you to stop and repair before serious damage is done to the engine

  • Engine temperature sensor

  • A further fail safe, if the engine reaches an unsafe temperature an alarm will sound, giving you the opportunity to take action to prevent damage

  • Oil level sensor

  • Voltage level sensor

  • Alarm with mute option

  • The mute option is great when you are doing repairs and need to leave the ignition on

  • Start up component check sequence

  • The LBB will run through the sensors and check whether all levels are normal when you start the vehicle. This gives great peace of mind if you need to move quickly and have not had time to check the fluids etc.


The Innovative Auto website ( is about as high tech as a chocolate chip cookie but does have useful information such as DIY installation manuals, dealer directories and a calibration guide. Innovative Auto also provides a commercial version, which can limit speeds and auto shut down with failure, as well as other useful gizmos like a turbo timer, calibration tools and mini header tanks.  

Retailing at only a few hundred dollars this is one bit of gear which is a no brainer, essentially it is a false economy not to have one.


No, we are not sponsored by Innovative Auto and we were not paid for this (or any) review. I have such a huge gratitude and respect for this product that I believe every vehicle owner should have this EMS (Engine Management System), or something similar, installed in every vehicle they own, not just the recreation rig.



Another South African company called Madman has a similar EMS (called the EMS1) which retails at around $230.00 (at time of writing) and includes features such as an Exhaust Gas Temperature sensor and is upgradable to allow a few more options. We have never used this product in our own vehicle but have heard good reports from those who use it.




I really learnt to love the Little Black Box when we were driving at around 5000 meters in the Peruvian Andes and the radiator cap failed to deal with those extreme pressures and vomited our precious coolant, repeatedly. If I had not installed the LBB (as advised by a Land Rover indie workshop in Cape Town), the engine would have overheated and I would have possibly destroyed my head gasket, or worse, and would have been stranded in the mountains with only very expensive options for recovery and repair. It is not impossible to conclude that without the LBB our journey through the Americas might have ended early. I find that most vehicles are equipped with unreliable sensors and, usually, by the time you notice the warning gauge the damage has been done.





















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